Born on May 7, 1949, Deborah Butterfield is an American sculptor. She divides her time between a ranch in Bozeman, Montana and her studio space in Hawaii. She is internationally recognized for her horse sculptures that are made from discovered objects such as metal and pieces of wood. Deborah Butterfield was born on the same day as the running of the 75th Kentucky Derby. Butterfield partly credits that date as an inspiration for the subject matter of her artistic endeavor. She has said that she would have preferred to work in the female form, but her mentor, Manuel Neri, has already dominated that area of activity. Instead, she chose to create self-portraits using images of horses. Gradually, the horses themselves became her primary theme.
Butterfield’s work has been widely recognized with works in the Metropolitan Art Museum in New York, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, TX and the Contemporary Museum in Honolulu Hawaii. In the early 1980s she began crafting horses out of scrap metal and other materials fastened together with wire. She then would photography each individual work from all angles to as to be able to reassemble it in metal. Butterfield only works during the winter months, so pieces usually take from 3 to 5 years to complete.
Deborah Butterfield gave the title Silver Bow to the horse that stands in the front of Pao Hall on the Purdue University campus in West Lafayette, IN. As a perennial greeter of students, faculty and staff as they enter the Patti and Rusty Rueff School of Visual and Performing Arts, the horse stands as a sign of the dynamic and vital arts community within the university. Silver Bow was dedicated on April 17, 2010.